Ennis is a city in eastern Ellis County, Texas, located 35 miles south of Dallas. The population was 18,513 at the 2010 census, up from 16,454 at the 2000 census. It is the third largest city in Ellis County, with the county seat of Waxahachie being the largest and the city of Midlothian being the second largest. The city is also home to the National Polka Festival and the Texas Motorplex.
The Emporium Building at the intersection of Ennis Avenue and Dallas St. in Downtown Ennis.
Location of Ennis, Texas
|• Mayor||Angeline Juenemann|
|• City Manager||Randall Scott Dixon|
|• Total||28.2 sq mi (73.0 km2)|
|• Land||27.6 sq mi (71.6 km2)|
|• Water||0.5 sq mi (1.4 km2)|
|Elevation||538 ft (164 m)|
|• Density||670/sq mi (258.5/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (Central (CST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||1335474|
Ennis is located in the southeastern portion of the Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex.
Ennis is known locally as a historically significant center of trade and cotton farming. The city was founded and supported by the railroad, and the success of cotton production attracted significant wealth and prosperity to the community in the early 20th century. Despite the onslaught of the Great Depression, the city continued to be economically viable well into the mid-20th century by its traditional means. Today, the community now serves as a manufacturing hub, a tourist destination, and a bedroom community serving the greater Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex.
The area that would later become the city of Ennis was first inhabited by the Tonkawa Native Americans. The area was also the hunting grounds of several Native American tribes including the Waco, Bidai, Anadarko, and Kickapoo tribes. These tribes frequented the area until Anglo pioneers arrived in the early-to-mid 19th century. When Ellis County was established and organized in 1850, much of the area was sparsely inhabited by isolated farmsteads as the nearby city of Dallas was in its infancy at the time. However, communities such as Ovilla, Waxahachie, and Burnham would have been settled and founded prior to the establishment of the city of Ennis.
In 1871 the Houston and Central Texas Railroad (H&TC) arrived at the spot that would become Ennis as it built north towards Dallas. The city was surveyed a year later and named after Cornelius Ennis, a founder of the H&TC Railroad who also served as Mayor of Houston (1856–57) and director of the Houston Tap and Brazoria Railway.
The railroad's decision to establish Ennis meant that the nearby city of Burnham would be bypassed. Many businesses in Burnham were attracted to the railroad and moved to Ennis. As a result, a mob of angry residents reacted violently to the railroad's bypass and attacked citizens in the city of Ennis, killing one and injuring several others. Burnham, an otherwise well-planned and developed city, would eventually decline and become a ghost town in the coming decades.
Between 1874 and 1890, the population of Ennis grew tenfold from approximately 300 to 3,000. Many of the new settlers came from the war-torn Confederate States of America and others came from the war-ravaged European nations that later became Czechoslovakia. This early growth was attributed to the success of cotton production in the region, making Ennis a center of trade and commerce for both farmers and the railroad. The influx of Czech migrants would also shape and transform the cultural heritage of the community for years to come.
In 1891, the H&TC chose Ennis to be its northern division headquarters. The machine shops and roundhouse employed several hundred men. One condition of the agreement was that as long as Ennis was able to furnish water the shops could not be moved from the community. The city built the first of three lakes for this purpose: Old City Lake in 1892, followed by New Lake in 1895, and Lake Clark (an extension of New Lake) in 1940. However H&TC would later be acquired by the Texas and New Orleans Railroad (T&NO), a subsidiary of Southern Pacific, in 1934. While it no longer hosted the company headquarters, the shops and yard in Ennis would remain and continue to be used as a hub for other lines and branches serving the city, namely as the southern terminus for the Texas Midland Railroad.
On July 14, 1902, the Corsicana Oil Citys of the Texas League moved that day's game against Texarkana to Ennis, due to Sunday blue laws in Coriscana. Future major-leaguer Nig Clarke set an all-time record by hitting eight home runs in ten at bats in a 51–3 victory. (Clarke was helped mightily by the fact that Ennis' tiny ballpark featured a right field fence only about 210 feet from home plate.)
The city was also served by the Texas Electric Railway, an extensive interurban railway network that stretched over 200 miles in length at its peak. The line historically ran at street level along Dallas Street before running parallel to the T&NO tracks outside of the city center. From 1913 to 1941, Ennis was a stop along the Dallas-Corsicana Line, but the rise of the automobile, decline in ridership, and the economic strain of World War II led to the suspension of service and closure of the line.
The expansion of the cotton industry supplemented by the railroad provided access to foreign and domestic markets through the port of Houston. By 1920, a total of 152,601 bales of cotton were ginned and shipped from Ellis County, the most of any county in America. The Ennis Chamber of Commerce adopted the slogan 'Where Railroads and Cotton Fields Meet." These two industries - trade and cotton production - produced immense wealth for the community that could be seen in the residential development of the city. Lawyers, doctors, businessmen, and other wealthy residents built churches of many different denominations and numerous fraternal organizations met regularly. Elegant houses along “the Avenue” and north were accompanied by dozens of Folk Victorian houses and Craftsman style bungalows. These Victorian houses and Craftsman bungalows in the northwestern part of the city would eventually become a part of the Templeton-McCanless Residential Historic District.
By the mid-20th century Ennis had become a modern community with schools, three movie theaters, several drugstores, banks and automobile dealerships. The sons and daughters of early settlers had developed new traditions like the National Polka Festival and the Ennis Bluebonnet Trail. Moreover, the city was connected to Dallas to the north and Houston to the South by Interstate Highway 45. Since then, citizens of Ennis have been able to experience the best of two worlds, participation in the attractions of a large, dynamic city and the familiar street-scape of a unique, nurturing community.
The commercial strip along Ennis Ave. between Downtown and Interstate 45 was hit by an EF1 tornado in the tornado outbreak of May 15–17, 2013, rendering four homes uninhabitable and damaging as many as 55 businesses. The damage caused by the tornado impacted the National Register Historic District and many other businesses in town, with some of the historic downtown buildings facing demolition. However, the demolition of these historic buildings were opposed by local community leaders and activists. As a result, these damaged buildings were sold by the city to developers with the intention of repairing the buildings and revitalizing the neglected Downtown Historical District. These revitalization plans were implemented in the Downtown Comprehensive Plan, and the city was re-admitted to the Texas Main Street Program in January 2015. Today, almost all of the buildings pending demolition have since been rebuilt and renovated, and revitalization efforts have encouraged the startup of new businesses and festivals in the historic district.
Ennis is in the northeastern region of Texas, in eastern Ellis County. Interstate 45 passes through the east side of the city, with access from Exits 247 through 255. I-45 leads north 35 miles (56 km) to Dallas and south 205 miles (330 km) to Houston. U.S. Route 287 curves around the south side of Ennis and leads northwest 15 miles (24 km) to Waxahachie, the Ellis County seat. Texas State Highway 34 passes through the center of Ennis, leading northeast 26 miles (42 km) to Kaufman and southwest 20 miles (32 km) to Italy. Waco is 73 miles (117 km) to the southwest.
Ennis has a total area of 28.2 square miles (73.0 km2), of which 27.6 square miles (71.6 km2) is land and 0.54 square miles (1.4 km2), or 1.85%, is water.
The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Ennis has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.
The city of Ennis has a City Commissioner/City Manager government type, with several commissioners representing different departments of the city government in city council. Ennis is home to the congressional office of US Representative Joe Barton, which is located within Texas's 6th Congressional District of which he represents. Ennis is also a part of Texas House District 10 represented by John Wray
Ennis is the only incorporated city in the United States that still elects its City Marshal. The election is held every two years with the winner being named Chief of Police by the City Council and City Manager. Currently the post is held by Chief John Erisman.
Below is a list of members of the City Administration and their position:
|Mayor||Angeline "Angie" Juenemann|
|City Manager||Scott Dixon|
|Assistant City Manager||Randall Heye|
|City Secretary||Angie Wade|
|Secretary to City Manager||Theresa Wheeler|
|City Attorney||Brenda McDonald|
|Municipal Court Judge||Don Stout|
|Police Chief||John Erisman|
|Fire Chief||Jeff Aycock|
|Fire Marshal||Chad Wester|
|Finance Director||C. Joel Welch|
|Economic Development Coordinator||Marty Nelson|
|Director of Public Works||Robert Bolen|
|Chief Building Inspector||Mark Richardson|
|Director of Health Services||Chauncy Williams, R.S.|
|HR/Benefits Coordinator||Diane Kellenberger|
|Director of Parks & Recreation||Andy Wolfe|
|Library Director||Jessica Diaz|
|Tourism Director||Gina Rokas|
|Main Street Coordinator||Becky McCarty|
As of the census of 2000, there were 16,045 people, 5,335 households, and 3,947 families residing in the city. The population density was 891.7 people per square mile (344.4/km2). There were 5,618 housing units at an average density of 312.2 per square mile (120.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 66.57% White, 14.71% African American, 0.47% Native American, 0.29% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 15.93% from other races, and 2.03% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 33.19% of the population.
There were 5,335 households out of which 38.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.4% were married couples living together, 14.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.0% were non-families. 22.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.95 and the average family size was 3.45.
In the city, the population was spread out with 30.4% under the age of 18, 10.6% from 18 to 24, 27.7% from 25 to 44, 18.5% from 45 to 64, and 12.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.4 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $38,923, and the median income for a family was $44,608. Males had a median income of $28,585 versus $22,855 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,677. About 10.4% of families and 13.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.3% of those under age 18 and 15.7% of those age 65 or over.
The city is home to the Ennis Independent School District, which consists of two early childhood centers, four elementary schools, two intermediate schools, one junior high, and Ennis High School. Secondary education offers several extracurricular programs, such as UIL (University Interscholastic League) Academics and Sports, TSA (Technology Student Association), and the National FFA Organization. Sports offered in either junior high and up or exclusively high school include baseball, football, basketball, volleyball, tennis, cross country running, track, powerlifting, softball, soccer, and golf.
St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church once offered a K-12 private school, but was shut down in 2008 due to low enrollment and a lack of profit. The curriculum focused on academics infused with Catholic theological teaching. Sports included softball, baseball, basketball, and soccer – all of which were part of other sports groups competing with other private schools.
There are two longstanding and popular festivals with nationwide recognition that take place in the city, the first of which being the National Polka Festival. First held in 1967, this three-day festival has been hosted annually during the Memorial Day weekend to commemorate the city's historic Czech Texan history and heritage. The festival features Czech cuisine, polka music, dancing and concert events hosted at one of several event halls, and a parade through historic downtown. There is also a homecoming-like competition among residents and members of several organizations to select the Duke and Dutchess of Ennis for the year. The Ennis Polka Run also takes place to help fund the Rotary Club and the Children's Reading Club of Ennis.
The second major festival hosted in Ennis is the Bluebonnet Trails Festival, celebrating the state flower of Texas and the vibrant bloom of wildflowers in the surrounding countryside. The event attracts tens of thousands of tourists each year to events including sightseeing excursions and a festival in downtown. The festival is held on the third weekend of April, and the Bluebonnet Trails are hosted for the entire month. First hosted along the Kachina Prairie Park's historic mile-long trail system in 1938, the Bluebonnet Trails have since expanded into a route map of several dozen miles along rural farm roads throughout the surrounding countryside east and northeast of the city. The routes for these sightseeing excursions have been officially hosted and mapped out by the Ennis Garden Club since 1951. To commemorate the popularity of the Bluebonnet Trails Festival and the efforts made to celebrate and preserve the state flower of Texas, Ennis was designated by the 1997 Texas State Legislature as the "Official Bluebonnet City of Texas" and home to the "Official Bluebonnet Trail of Texas."
Several other local events and festivals are hosted in the city throughout the year, mostly within the historic city center. The Unity One "Blues on Main" Summer Music Festival is a jazz and blues festival hosted in June; Ennis Freedom Fest is a parade and firework show hosted on the 4th of July; the Fall Festival and Monster Mash Dash 5k Marathon are hosted in October; and the Lights of Ennis Festival, the Parade of Lights, and the Our Lady of Guadalupe Procession are hosted in December during the Christmas season.
Lake Bardwell is a reservoir managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers located 5 miles south of Ennis. It is a flood-control reservoir in the Trinity River Basin and a conservation pool in the Trinity Valley Authority. Surrounding the lake is a park system consisting of Big Mustang Creek Park, Little Mustang Creek Park, High View Park, Love Park, Mott Park, and Highview Marina, all of which offer boat ramps. The lake and parks offer hiking, horseback riding, camping, fishing, and sport boating opportunities.
The Galaxy drive-in movie theatre opened in 2004 and draws visitors from around the area, and is most notable for being one of only two drive-in theaters operating in the DFW Metroplex.
Ennis is home to the Texas Motorplex, a quarter-mile drag racing facility built in 1986 by former funny car driver Billy Meyer. It annually hosts the NHRA O'Reilly Fall Nationals each September, when hundreds of professional and amateur drag racers compete for over $2 million in prize money.
The Ennis Railroad and Cultural Heritage Museum is housed in the former Van Noy restaurant building. The museum's collections include: railroad and cultural memorabilia including items related to the Houston and Central Texas Railroad; a large diorama of the old engine roundhouse that once existed just north of the museums location; a large collection of rare china; and a MKT caboose.
The Kachina Prairie is a city park preserving one of the last remaining examples of untouched Texas blackland prairie. The first Ennis bluebonnet trail was marked through this area in 1938.
In popular cultureEdit
Scenes from the following movies were filmed in Ennis: Deadly Blessing (1981) starring Sharon Stone; On Valentine’s Day (1986) starring Hallie Foote and Michael Higgins; and Walking Tall: The Payback (2007) with Kevin Sorbo and Haley Ramm.
Scenes from the documentary Flight of the Butterflies (2012) were filmed on Ennis' bluebonnet trails.
In March 21, 2009, the TV show Pinks: All Out hosted a contest at the Texas Motorplex.
- Clyde Barrow - Depression-era criminal, partner in Bonnie and Clyde crime duo. Born in nearby Telico, Texas, but frequented and resided in Ennis later in life.
- Ernest Tubb - country music singer and songwriter, Country Music Hall of Fame inductee. Also known as the "Texas Troubadour"
- Darrell Lance Abbott - musician, guitarist, and songwriter, co-founding member of Pantera and Damageplan
- Ray Armstrong - college and professional football player
- Bob Banner - producer, writer and director, co-producer of The Carol Burnett Show
- Joe Barton - politician, former Republican representative of Texas's 6th congressional district. Longtime resident
- Alfred H. Bennett - District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas
- Gary Campbell - college football player and coach
- Steve Collins - college football player
- Katie Daffan - female author, longtime resident of Ennis
- James "Red" Duke - trauma surgeon, professor, host of Dr. Red Duke's Health Report, first surgeon to receive President Kennedy at Parkland Medical in Dallas
- Jack Fields - businessman, politician, Republican representative of Texas's 8th congressional district
- Walt Furnace - politician and businessman, Republican representative of the Alaska House of Representatives
- Tanya Godsey - musician, vocalist, and pianist
- Jack Lummus - Medal of Honor recipient, 1st Lt. of the US Marine Corps, player for the New York Giants
- Graham Harrell - NFL and college football player, quarterback, coach, offensive coordinator. Lived in Ennis, attended and played football at Ennis High School
- Kirby Baxter Holmes - gospel musician, vocalist, pastor. Instrumental in Martin Luther King Jr.'s first touring visit to Texas in 1959
- Hix McCanless - architect, surveyor, civil engineer. Longtime resident, designed multiple homes in Ennis
- Ginger Rogers - actress, singer, dancer. Briefly lived in Ennis during childhood. In an appearance on the Phil Donahue Show, she describes Ennis as “a quiet place and very pretty, just a little country place with tree-lined streets.”
- Rabon Tarrant - jump blues and jazz drummer, singer and songwriter. Composer of blues standard "Blues with a Feeling"
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